Dogs do the Darndest Things

William Chapin reminisces on three of the goofiest dogs he has owned.

| February/March 1995

  • 148-112-01
    Three of the craziest dogs you will ever meet.
    ILLUSTRATION: RICK KIRKMAN

  • 148-112-01

Over the years I have lived in the same house with a succession of dogs, although never with more than one at a time if you don't count new puppies. Most of them were normal, at least as normal as any dog can be. A few of them were surpassingly odd. To me, that didn't matter. I loved them all. But the odd ones were more interesting.

The first oddball was Bridget, an Irish terrier. It was a long time ago, on Bushwillie Farm in East Pittsford, Vermont, and my memory, the memory of a hyperactive ten-year-old boy, is that she was heavyset for a terrier. Her belly swung from side to side when she ran.

Bridget was more than merely "odd." She was downright goofy. She had been taught by me and my sister and two brothers to roll over, which she did laboriously until a dog biscuit came her way. We kept the dog biscuits in the sizable burlap sack they came in, stashed upright in a corner of our voluminous kitchen near the door to the woodshed. One mid-morning, when I was alone in the kitchen with Bridget, I saw her standing in front of the dog biscuits and staring at them fixedly. Studying them. She was absolutely silent. Suddenly, it must have been a kind of canine epiphany, she rolled over. And over and over again. Not a single dog biscuit popped out the sack in response to this maniacal trick. Nevertheless, she was a whirling dervish on the kitchen floor. Presently she had the entire family as an audience, a family laughing so hard they had tears in their eyes.

Bridget ignored us. She just kept on revolving. She didn't stop until my sister Janet reached into the sack and got her a biscuit.



Following Bridget, we had some normal dogs, and then the family moved to Montreal, where my father worked for a sugar refinery. While my father was on vacation in Cuba, he bought a little tank-like English bull terrier named Guapa (Spanish for "handsome"). Guapa was fairly normal, and I shall skip her except for two things: 1. She loved to play "fetch" with a slimy old tennis ball and you had to be careful not to get your fingers caught in her jaws when she returned the ball to you. She had jaws of steel. And 2. She was the mother of Barfly, the dog my wife O'Hara and I had when we got married in June 1941.

I was a cub reporter on The Rutland Herald at the time. We rented a one-room apartment in a gothic mansion not far from the Herald office. Barfly, of course, was with us.






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